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Missouri Budget Project warns of potential for worse revenue growth drop

(via Flickr/Tracy O)

A group that advocates for low-income Missourians is warning that a drop in revenues two months ago could get worse unless lawmakers take action next year.

Amy Blouin is executive director of the Missouri Budget Project.  She says revenue is currently projected to grow at only 4.1 percent, meaning that the state is facing a budget shortfall of $216 million.

"We're looking at potential shortfalls which could undermine our ability to invest in the education and health and other needs of our citizens," she said.

State revenues in June came in much lower than expected, prompting Gov. Jay Nixon to withhold $115 million from the new state budget that took effect last month.  

"Sometimes forecasts of revenue can be a little unrealistic," Blouin said. "Forecasts are generally made during the budget process, and they're made sometimes a year in advance … they can adjust somewhat based on economic changes in the environment, or just the way people are shopping."

Analysis by the Missouri Budget Project suggests that revenue needs to grow at 6.5 percent for the Fiscal Year 2017 budget to be fully funded.

Blouin wants lawmakers to pass legislation to require revenue collection from online shopping, which Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for years. Republicans have refused to do so, saying it would put an additional financial burden on Missouri taxpayers.

She also said the tax cut passed by Republican lawmakers two years ago has not contributed to the lower numbers, but adds that once it kicks in revenue growth will slow down even further.

Missouri Budget Project's full report can be viewed here.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.